PHILIPSBURG–Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever is “out of touch” with the reality of St. Maarten post-Hurricane Irma and this is evident by his pushing the “biased and unfair” law changes as demanded by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to update the country’s ability to tackle money laundering and to combat terrorism financing, said Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel.
Emmanuel is miffed about De Weever’s response on Wednesday that the use of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma as a reason for the delay of several crucial still-to-be-approved laws “cannot be used any longer and will not fly because we already escaped by a narrow vote from the representing countries.”
Emmanuel was one of the MPs who called for the holding off of the laws. He reasoned: “We are still in the recovery phase after Irma. These laws are not good for the economy. They will bring more measures on the bankers.”
Asked if the pending blacklisting of the country should Parliament not pass the laws by November is not more destructive than status quo, Emmanuel said the law changes have been pending since 2012. “There is a reason they have not been passed. They are not good for St. Maarten.”
Parliament should be the body speaking about the law changes to CFATF and not the minister, Emmanuel said. “No one elected the minister. The people elected Parliament.”
De Weever “should also be ashamed of himself” for pushing the laws that are clearly aimed at a singular purpose. “The change to the penal code is only to see MP Theo Heyliger locked up with the help of a ‘crown witness’ they have lounging in a five-star hotel in Holland. The minister should be ashamed because he is in the position he is in because of MP Heyliger.”
The change to the Civil Code that will allow St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry to deregister businesses under suspicion of money laundering or involvement in terrorism financing is dangerous, said Emmanuel. “It is known that the Chamber of Commerce is a politically affiliated club and involves only influential people. This change they can use to affect businesses they don’t like. If a business is deregistered it affects everything including their bank account,” he said.
St. Maarten already has laws in place to tackle money laundering and to combat terrorism financing and there is no need for more crippling ones, said Emmanuel. “It is time for big countries to stop holding small ones by the neck. Small countries like us cannot be held to the same standards as big countries,” Emmanuel argued.
The “bullying of small islands by Trinidad-based CFATF has to stop,” said Emmanuel as he questioned why the twin-island republic is not on the CFATF blacklist, considering the number of its nationals who are fighting with ISIS.
Responding to the point that citizens’ actions are different from putting preventative laws and amendments in place, Emmanuel said: “No matter how you look at it, it is money laundering and financing of terrorism because someone had to pay for them to get on a plane and to get to ISIS.”
The changes to St. Maarten laws are pending laws since 2014-15 and those stem from CFATF recommendations dating to 2012. Changes are needed to the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Book 2 of the Civil Code. These were tabled by De Weever in the Central Committee of Parliament last week, but Members of Parliament are not convinced the laws are good for the country.
Bron: Daily Herald